The year of the drought, 2012, brought a downpour of insurance money on farmers, especially in Illinois. The state had more than one of every six crop insurance dollars paid out. That can change, says the Natural Resource Defense Council. “We have a great, great resource right under our feet – our soil,” says Claire O'Connor, an agricultural policy analyst who has written a report for the NRDC.
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“We need to be empowering farmers to invest in their soil, because we know that healthy soil can handle these challenges in a better way.” Those methods include no-till farming and more efficient irrigation practices. Crop insurance payouts in 2012 totaled $17.6 billion. Illinois’ share was $3 billion, more than $1 billion ahead of runner-up Iowa.